Got a little behind yesterday, as the cable guy came out and installed a new system. (Xfinity X1, if you care.)
Earlier in the week, we got the season finale of Agents of Shield (I still refuse to use their punctuation). I gave the pilot a B+, which was mostly me accepting that I could trust Joss Whedon (it’s unclear how much he actually has to do with the show, of course). I had little specific to say … the most interesting thing was finding out in the comments that Brett Dalton went to Cal with my actor friend Arthur.
The series went rapidly downhill. The characters were mostly boring, the overall arc was vague. I stuck with it because I liked Clark Gregg, because Ming-Na Wen turned 50, allowing me the chance to remark to my wife once per episode, “she’s 50 years old”, usually after her character had kicked some ass, because I hadn’t yet tired of the cutesy smarty pants, FitzSimmons. But it was going nowhere.
And then, things changed. I’m not locked into the Marvel world, and I didn’t see Captain America: The Winter Soldier, so I was never entirely clear about how that movie changed the world of Shield. What I do know is Bill Paxton joined up for a seven-episode arc, and I especially like Paxton when he’s in his Near Dark evil-is-fun mode, so his presence raised the level of everything else. The aforementioned Dalton, who up to that point seemed a bland actor playing a bland character, got a backstory that added a lot to the character, and Dalton responded well. Chloe Bennet’s Skye was integrated into the group, losing much of her annoyance factor. I don’t suppose I’d give the entire season that B+ grade, but the latter part of the season deserved at least that much, and promises much for Season Two, which has already been announced, and which was set up in the concluding scenes of the season finale.
In the Joss World, all of this most closely resembled Dollhouse, which stumbled along in a fairly mediocre way until they mostly junked the standalone episodes and leapt fully into The Dollhouse Arc. By the time the series ended (it got a second season for unknown reasons), it was one of the better shows on TV.
It’s important to note that I’m onboard for Season Two … I don’t stick with shows I don’t like (although I am known to stick with shows I do like far past their sell-by date). But, just as was true before the first episode aired, Agents of Shield is more about potential than anything concrete. Overall grade for Season One: B. Hopes for Season Two: A-.
I’ll add a note that doesn’t really fit anywhere. I’m sure my wife finds it tiresome that I obsess about Ming-Na Wen’s age, but it’s so refreshing to have a 50-year-old woman as a central character in a show like this, and when she kicks ass, it’s even better. Last weekend, I was at a friend’s art show and was talking about Ming-Na and how great she is at 50, when a woman stuck her head in the door and said, “hey, I’m 50 years old!” She was holding a biker’s helmet, and she was pretty much a walking advertisement for the greatness of being 50. I talked with her for a bit … she was pretty funny, told me she’d broken both her knees over the years, but what the heck, right? She was v.cool, and I felt silly making so much of age 50.